BIRDSEYE VIEWS OF FAR LANDS
JAMES T. NICHOLS
Author of "Lands of Sacred Story," "The World Around," etc.
Published by JAMES T. NICHOLS University Place Station DES MOINES, IOWA
Birdseye Views of Far Lands is an interesting, wholesome presentation of something that a keen-eyed, alert traveler with the faculty of making contrasts with all classes of people in all sorts of places, in such a sympathetic way as to win their esteem and confidence, has been able to pick up as he has roamed over the face of the earth for a quarter of a century.
The book is not a geography, a history, a treatise on sociology or political economy. It is a Human Interest book which appeals to the reader who would like to go as the writer has gone and to see as the writer has seen the conformations of surface, the phenomena of nature and the human group that make up what we call a "world."
The reader finds facts indicating travel and study set forth in such vigorous, vivid style that the attention is held by a story while most valuable information is being obtained. The casual reader, the pupil in the public school and student in the high school, professional men and women, will all find the book at once highly interesting and instructive. In no other book with which I am acquainted can so much that is interesting be learned of the world in so short time and in such a pleasing way.
Teachers in rural schools will find the book especially helpful. It will inspire the pupils in the upper grades in these schools to do some observation work themselves and to in this manner seek to learn their own localities better, while at the same time it will suggest the collection of materials about other countries, their peoples, products, characteristics and importance from sources other than text books.
Every rural school as well as every high school and public library in the land should have one or more copies of this book.
W. F. BARR
Dean College of Education Drake University
The contents of this book have appeared, in substance, in Successful Farming, a magazine that has a circulation of more than eight hundred and fifty thousand copies per issue, and the book is published largely at the request of many of the readers of this journal.
The author began traveling in foreign countries many years ago. Some of the countries described in the book have been visited many times and often with unusual opportunity to see places and people as they really are.
When the writer began traveling it was with no thought of ever writing for a magazine or publishing a book. It is only natural, however, that one would read what others say about the countries he expected to visit. Travel books and articles were often read in public libraries and the habit was formed of making extensive notes, sometimes entire sentences being copied in notebook without the use of quotation marks or any reference whatever to the author. It is therefore impossible to give credit where credit is often due.
No literary merit is claimed for the book. The information was gained in every possible way and the book is sent forth hoping that it will be suggestive and helpful, especially to those who find it impossible to visit foreign lands. If the eye of an author of a book or magazine article should read the following pages and fall upon a thought or sentence that is familiar it will be evidence that your book or article was very helpful to the one who writes these lines. This book is simply an effort to pass some of the worth while things on to others.
"Jas. T. Nichols" [handwritten signature.]
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I The Land of Opposites—China 5
II The Pearl of the Orient—Philippines 12
III The Country America Opened to Civilization—Japan 20
IV The Transformation of a Nation—Korea 28
V A Great Unknown Land—Manchuria 35
VI The Land of Sorrow—Siberia 43
VII The Home of Bolshevism—Russia 51
VIII The Nation That Conquers the Sea—Holland 58
IX The Nation That the World Honors—Belgium 65
X A Glimpse of America's Friend—France 73
XI Some Impressions of the Great Peace Conference 81
XII The Nightmare of Europe—Alsace-Lorraine 88
XIII The Home of the Passion Play—Oberammergau 95
XIV The Country Where the War Started—Servia 102
XV A World-Famous Land—Palestine 110
XVI A World-Famous City—Jerusalem 116
XVII A World-Famous River—The Jordan 122
XVIII The Playground of Moses—Egypt 128
XIX A Country With a Thousand Rivers—Venezuela 136
XX A Land of Great Industries—Brazil 143
XXI Uruguay and Paraguay 151
XXII The Wonderful Argentine Republic 158
XXIII Yankeedom of South America—Chile 165
XXIV The Switzerland of South America—Bolivia 173
XXV The Land of Mystery—Peru 179
XXVI The World's Great Crossroad—Panama Canal 186
XXVII The Seven Wonders of the World 193
THE LAND OF OPPOSITES—CHINA
A half century ago the world laughed at Jules Verne for imagining that it would ever be possible to go around the world in eighty days. It was not until years later that Nellie Bly, a reporter, actually encircled the globe in that space of time. Now we are dreaming of making such a journey in ten days and our aeroplanes are flying at a rate of speed that would take one around the world in eight days. At this hour thousands of young men can handle these flyers as easily and with almost as little danger as they can handle an automobile. With aerial mail routes already established in many countries it will not be long until mail service by aeroplane will be established around the world.
This book is a series of Birdseye Views of Far Lands something the same as one would see on a flying visit to various countries. In this way it will be possible to get glimpses of countries on every continent in one small volume and thus give interesting and valuable information about countries and peoples in all parts of the world. Young people especially are in the mind of the writer. As most of the information was secured by rambling through these countries and rubbing elbows with the common people it will be difficult to keep from using the personal pronoun quite often.
It is fitting that our first view be of China which is one of the oldest civilizations on the earth. This great agricultural people have tilled the same soil for forty centuries and in most cases it yet produces more per acre than the soil of perhaps any other country. The Chinese are a great people. Although they are just awakening from a sleep that has lasted twenty centuries or more, yet the world can learn many valuable lessons from them. They used to embody the genius of the world and even yet have skill along certain lines that is simply amazing. Many of the great inventions that have blessed the world and which we are using today were wrought out by these people and it will not be out of place here to recount some of their achievements.
The Chinese invented printing five hundred years before Caxton was born and the Peking Gazette is said to be the oldest newspaper in the world. They invented paper nearly eighteen centuries ago and had books hundreds of years before the days of Gutenburg. They invented the compass twenty centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They invented gunpowder ages ago and were the first people to use firearms. They used banknotes and bills of exchange long before other nations, and the modern adding machine is founded upon a principle which has been used by them a thousand years. They discovered the process of rearing the silkworm and they dressed in silk when our forefathers wore clothing made of the skins of animals. The writer has crossed the Atlantic more than a dozen times on ships with watertight compartments, a so-called modern safety device, but the Chinese had watertight compartments in their junks hundreds of years before modern steamships were ever dreamed about.
To the Chinese we must credit the making of asbestos, the manufacture of lacquer, the carving of ivory and many other important industries. Even today they make the finest dishes and the best pottery. At one time they built a tower two hundred and fifty-six feet high entirely of porcelain. Ages ago they dug the longest and in some respects the greatest canal ever dug on earth, the Grand Canal of China, which was a thousand miles long and some of which is in use to this day. They built the Great Wall of China which was fifteen hundred miles in length and which was a greater undertaking than the building of the Pyramids of Egypt.
The Chinese were the first people to coin money in a mint; the first to have a standard of weights and measures; the first to have a system of marking time. They had a celestial globe, an observatory, and noted the movements of heavenly bodies more than four thousand years ago. A Chinaman was the first to distill and use intoxicating liquor and for this he was dismissed from the public service by the ruler who said, "This will cost someone a kingdom some day." They are industrious, resourceful and skillful and should they become warriors and introduce modern methods and instruments of warfare the world would be up against the most frightful peril of all ages. Napoleon Bonaparte said of China, "Yonder sleeps a mighty giant and when it awakens it will make the whole world tremble."
The Chinese are one of the strongest races of people in existence. They have only been conquered twice but in both cases they absorbed their conquerors and made Chinese of them. Although old, out of date and slow, they have principles in their civilization that will last as long as time, and China will be a great nation long after some of the so-called great nations now in existence are forgotten.
With the exception of Russia as it was before the world war, the Chinese Empire is perhaps the largest the world has ever known. Its population comprises one-fourth of the human race. If the single state of Texas were as densely populated as at least one of the provinces of China, there would be living in this one state more than two hundred million people or nearly twice as many people as are now living in the whole United States. The resources of this great country are almost boundless. There is said to be coal enough in China to furnish the whole world fuel for a thousand years. While in China I was told of one mountain that has five veins of coal that can be seen without throwing a shovelful of dirt. Some years ago the German government investigated the iron resources of China and published the fact that they are the finest in the world. This no doubt explains one reason why Germany was trying to get a foothold in China.
But in agriculture the Chinese shine. As noted above they have tilled the same soil for four thousand years. Some of this soil too is very thin and poor but it produces as well today as it did a thousand years ago. While most of their methods are the oldest and crudest that can be found, yet in some other ways the whole world can learn lessons from them. They use fertilizer in the form of liquid and put it on the growing plant rather than on the soil as we do. The farmer will feed his plants with the same regularity and care that our farmers feed and care for their horses and cattle. Every drop of urine and every particle of night soil is preserved for fertilizer. This is saved in earthen jars and gathered, mostly by women, each morning. A Chinese contractor paid the city of Shanghai $31,000 in gold in a single year for the privilege of collecting the human waste and selling it to the farmers around near the city. Where a beast of burden is at work a boy or girl is near with a long handled dipper ready to catch the urine and droppings as they fall.
In China the farmers have always been held in high esteem. While the scholar is highest, the farmer is second on the list in the social scale. It is interesting to know that the soldier is fifth or last on the list because his work is to destroy rather than to build up. The hoe is an emblem of honor in China. For hundreds of years the Emperor with his nobles went every spring to the Temple of Agriculture to offer sacrifice. After this ceremony they all went to a field near the temple and paid honor to the tillers of the soil. At a yellow painted plow, to which was hitched a cow or buffalo, with a yellow robed peasant leading, the Emperor dressed as a farmer put his hand to the plow and turned nine furrows across the field while bands of musicians chanted the praises of agriculture. Even the Empress set the example of honest agricultural toil by picking the leaves from the mulberry trees, early each spring, to be fed to silk worms.
All China is a network of canals and the Chinese are a race of irrigators. Both men and women stand from daylight until dark walking on a sort of a windlass turning an endless chain with buckets on it, one end of which is in the canal and the other end up on the bank, pumping the water up to flood the rice fields or irrigate the growing crops. No people toil harder or more earnestly than do these simple people. While they grow an abundance of vegetables, yet rice and tea are the greatest products of China.
The great rivers of the empire are so liable to disastrous floods that in many of the lower lands the people content themselves with fishing and raising geese and ducks. A duck farm is most interesting. A large shed by the river, or a raft, will serve as a shelter for the night. The farmer of course sleeps in this shed. Early in the morning he opens the door and out come the ducks. At night they return from every direction scrambling over each other to get in. The Chinaman sits near the door with a long bamboo pole herding them in. He even trains drakes to assist him and they care for the flock something like a good shepherd dog will care for sheep.
The Chinese do nearly everything backward or opposite from the way we do it. The reading in their books begins at the end. Instead of across the page the lines are up and down with footnotes at the top. The Chinaman laughs at a funeral and cries at a wedding. He beckons you to come when he wants you to go away. Instead of shaking his friend's hand in greeting him he shakes his own hands. When he gets puzzled instead of scratching his head as we do he kicks off his shoe and scratches the bottom of his foot. When he gets mad at another he kills himself imagining that his dead spirit will haunt the enemy and make life miserable for him. Men often do crochet work while women dig ditches and drive piling. Men wear petticoats and women wear trousers.
The Chinese launch ships sideways. Their compass points to the south. In building a house they make the roof first and the foundation is the last thing they put in. The key in the door turns backward to lock it. The kitchen is in the front while the best room is in the back of the house. When a Chinaman sprinkles clothes for ironing purposes he uses his mouth as the sprinkler. I never had a collar washed in China that was not ironed wrong side out. He pays the doctor when he is well and stops the pay the moment he gets sick. You can almost bank on a Chinaman doing anything the opposite from the way you do it and he laughs at your way as much as you do at his.
THE PEARL OF THE ORIENT—PHILIPPINES
Of all the islands in the eastern seas, none are more interesting than our own Philippines. Like the genuine pearl which is the result of a bruise and the outcome of suffering, these pearls of the far east are said by geologists to be the result of great volcanic forces that tore them away from the continent and set them out six hundred miles as "gems in the ocean." More than three thousand there are of these islands all together, and their combined area is nearly equal to that of Japan or California. I visited the Philippines a short time before the world war broke out and at that time there were seven million acres of arable land unoccupied and some of it could be entered and purchased for ten cents per acre.
This is a land where the storms of winter never blow but where from month to month and age to age there is good old summer time. Children are born, grow to manhood, old age, and die without ever seeing fire to keep them warm for they never need it. A range of twenty degrees is about all that the spirits in the thermometer ever show, for the minimum is seventy-two and the maximum ninety-two degrees. While the nights are cool and the days warm, yet a case of sunstroke was never known and but once in a generation has a hundred in the shade been recorded.
About the most unpleasant feature is the little tiny ants. They find their way into everything. Table legs must be placed in jars of water and yet they find their way to the top of the tables. Then there is dampness everywhere. Books soon become mildewed or unglued and the finest library will soon have the appearance of a secondhand bookshop.
Almost all kinds of tropical fruits can be raised in the Philippines. I drove out from Manila to the home of Mr. Lyon, who is a regular Burbank. He located on some of the worst soil to be found and undertook to demonstrate that anything that will grow on any spot on the earth will grow there and he practically succeeded. He has sent to India, California, Egypt and nearly everywhere for the rarest orchids and most delicate plants. To eat of the fruits of every kind of tree and hear him tell the story of plants and shrubs and trees in his Garden of Eden is an experience one cannot forget.
The story of how these islands came into our possession is still fresh and vivid in the memory of thousands. Spanish cruelty had reached the climax and Admiral Dewey was commanded to "find the Spanish fleet and sink it to the bottom of the sea." As the great ship upon which I went into and out of this harbor plowed the waves I lived over again that marvelous May day in 1898. It was one of the great days in our history. As the fleet entered the harbor word came to the flagship that they were entering a territory covered with submarine mines, yet Admiral Dewey signaled, "Steam ahead." A little later word came that they were in direct range of the guns at the fort and once more the Admiral signaled "Steam ahead." Still later word came that they were entering the most dangerous mine-infested district of all and were liable any instant to be blown to atoms, and once more the fearless Admiral signaled "Steam ahead." The result was that the long dark night of Spanish rule was ended and a new era was ushered in.
The transformation brought about since that memorable day is almost unbelievable. The whole country has been revolutionized. Railroads and macadamized roads have been built with steel and concrete bridges and where it used to be almost impassable it is now a pleasure to travel. Schools and colleges have been established. A bureau of labor has averted many strikes. A constabulary force of nearly five thousand men has done wonders in suppressing brigandage, bringing the savage tribes into subjection and preserving the peace in general. This force is somewhat similar to the mounted police system of Saskatchewan in Canada and is a terror to evil doers.
A bureau of health has transformed the city of Manila from a fever-infested hotbed of contagious diseases to one of the most healthful cities on the globe. Six thousand lepers have been collected and established in a colony on an island. The number of cases of small-pox has been reduced from forty thousand to a few hundred per year. Cholera, which used to sweep away tens of thousands is almost unknown. With a dozen or more great hospitals and more than three hundred boards of health, great things have been accomplished.
I was much interested in the report of Francis Burton Harrison who was a recent governor general of the Philippines who said, "During the war this race of people was intensely and devotedly loyal to the cause of the United States. It raised a division of Filipino volunteers for federal service and presented destroyers and a submarine to the United States Navy; it oversubscribed its quota in Liberty bonds and gave generously to Red Cross and other war work. America was criticised and even ridiculed for her altruism in dealing with this problem. The idea of training tropical people for independence was thought to be idealistic and impracticable. The result was quite to the contrary. Once more idealism has been shown to be the moving force in working out the destinies of nations. That is what America has done to the Philippines."
"If the city of Manila could, by some genius of modern times, be laid down in Europe and ticketed, labeled, bill-posted and guide-booked, it would be famous," says one authority. The city contains an area of more than fifteen square miles and is more densely populated per mile of street than New York. When civil government was established in 1901 the conditions were deplorable. The streets were narrow and filthy and there was no sewer system to speak of. The river and dirty canals divided and subdivided the city. There was practically no water system and disease and death lurked in almost every shadow.
Now the city is fast becoming one of the world's great cities and one of the most healthful cities on the globe. The streets have been widened, many of them, and are kept clean. A water system brings pure water to almost every household and a great sewer system takes away the filth. The Manila Hotel is worth a million and a park or square on the water front covers hundreds of acres of ground.
The great Y. M. C. A. buildings were thronged as in no other city the writer ever visited. The fire department is up-to-date, the police system well organized, and even in the great Bilibid prison the reforms introduced are second to none in any prison. This prison covers seventeen acres of ground, making it one of the largest in the world. Many of its fifty buildings are built around a circle and in the tower at the center, watchmen, who can see the entire prison, stand night and day.
Through the kindness of the officials the writer was allowed to go into this tower one afternoon as the five thousand prisoners came from the shops, formed into companies and went through a thirty-minute drill. The band played throughout and as the men were formed into companies we from the tower could see each individual company although they were hidden from each other. The great body of men moved like the wheels of a great clock. They stood, knelt, touched hands, lay down, arose, walked and exercised, keeping time with the music in a way that was wonderful to behold. Cells for prisoners have long since been done away. They mingle in companies in large sunny, clean, dormitories, where they visit, read and sing.
In the heart of Manila there remains "all that is mortal" of one of the most interesting spots in the eastern world. It is the old, old capital city and its story is the story of the Philippines. The old walls of this inner city were built some four hundred years ago and could they speak, the whole world would listen with amazement and horror. There were seven gates in this old wall and they were closed and opened by means of gigantic windlasses.
Then, too, the story of the old Fort Santiago almost rivals that of the Tower of London. Here were found, when we took it, mysterious underground passages, store rooms and magazines, dark and hidden chambers some of which were nearly half filled with skeletons. The stories that center around this old fort make one shudder to hear them. Possibly they are exaggerated, but there are many today who believe them. As an example, we are told that a woman had been walled up in a cell, with only a small opening through which food was shoved in, the day her baby was born and when the Americans came they found her and her sixteen-year-old child in this dark room. The child had never had even a glimpse of the sunlight.
When I climbed upon this old fort and saw the stars and stripes waving in the breeze, where for more than three hundred years the Spanish emblem had terrorized the people, I thought of the mighty changes that the American flag had brought. That memorable day in 1898 when our own General Merritt met the Spanish governor-general and arranged for the surrender of the city, was one of the greatest days in the history of the orient.
People in Manila slept but little that eventful night for somehow they had gotten the idea that the coming morning would be their day of doom. When the sun arose they hardly breathed. For a whole week they were afraid to venture from their homes. But there was no pillage, no plunder and no bloodshed. When the amazed people found courage to venture out, their astonishment knew no bounds. It was almost too good to be true that American occupation meant the dawning of a new, and for them, a glorious day, and it is not surprising that such a report could be given as Governor General Harrison submitted in 1919.
Soon after he came from the Philippines I heard Rev. Homer C. Stuntz recount many of his experiences there and will give a single one of these as memory recalls it. As Bishop of the Methodist church he had been there about six months when one day a fine looking young Filipino came to his home and asked for a private interview. He insisted on having doors and windows closed and blinds all down. Mr. Stuntz said he had no idea what the man wanted. When they were alone with door locked and with evidence of great agitation the young man said: "I have come many miles to see you and ask you a question that means more to us Filipinos than any other question that I could ask." Mr. Stuntz said that as yet he had no idea what was troubling the man until he continued: "I want to know, sir, if it is now safe—the soldiers say it is, but I cannot believe it—to have a copy of the Protestant Bible in my house and read it to my family?"
Mr. Stuntz said the whole thing seemed so strange to him that he was silent for a moment, when the man continued: "Sir, this is a very important question to us Filipinos. You know the law under which we have lived here is this," and quoting from section 219 of the Penal Code of Spain in the Philippines, said: "If any person or persons shall preach or teach or otherwise maintain any doctrine or doctrines not established by the state, he shall be deemed guilty of a crime and shall be punished at the discretion of the judge." Then, to the amazement of Mr. Stuntz, the man continued: "Under the operation of that law my own father was dragged from our house and we never saw him alive again. That was when I was eleven years old. I have supported my mother as best I could, and now I have a wife and two children. I want to know if it is safe."
It was with a heart thrilling with pride that this great American took the young man to the window and as he opened the blind and the window itself and saw the stars and stripes proudly waving in the breeze and with tears running down his face said to him: "My dear man, as long as yonder flag waves over the city you may take the Bible and climb up on the ridgeboard of your house at high noon each day, three hundred and sixty-five days in the year and read it as loud as you can and no man shall harm you." Three months later Mr. Stuntz went to that man's home city, spoke from half past seven until midnight, announced that he would speak in the same building at six o'clock the next morning, and an hour before the appointed time five hundred people were in line waiting to get in.
THE COUNTRY AMERICA OPENED TO CIVILIZATION—JAPAN
Three hundred and fifty years ago there were perhaps a million Christians in Japan. The great Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, introduced the religion of the Nazarene into Japan in 1849, and it spread like a prairie fire. But in the course of time the Japanese leaders turned against the priests and leaders of the new religion and undertook to obliterate everything Christian from their civilization.
They placed a price upon the head of every Christian. They made what they called footplates, a plate about the size of a shoe sole with a picture of Christ upon it. When a person was brought whom they suspicioned as being a Christian they put this footplate down and commanded the accused one to stamp it. If this was done freely the person was allowed freedom, for they said no Christian would step on the face of Christ. If the accused one refused to do this the horrors of his torture were so great that death was a release. The writer of these lines has seen some of those old footplates that have been preserved to this day.
Stone signboards were placed along the highways of Japan upon which were written: "So long as the sun shall continue to warm the earth, let no Christian be so bold as to enter Japan; and let all know that the King of Spain himself, or the Christian's God, or the great God of all, if he dare violate this command, shall pay for it with his head." I saw one of these old signboards on exhibition in a museum in Tokyo. Japan closed her ports, established a deadline around her domain and allowed no ships to land, shut out the world and became a hermit nation.
It was the eighth of July, 1853, that a fleet of vessels boldly crossed the forbidden line and dropped anchor in what is now known as Yokohama harbor. It was Commodore Perry and the stars and stripes were waving from the ship masts. At once there was great excitement on shore and soon boats with men wearing swords were along the ships' sides trying to explain that they were on forbidden territory.
The men in the small boats were told emphatically that only the highest official could come on board. One of the men represented that he was second in rank and when he was allowed to come on board Commodore Perry refused to see him. After a parley this Japanese officer was made to understand that the expedition bore a letter from the President of the United States to the Emperor of Japan and that it could be delivered only to the officer of the highest rank. When the Japanese officer produced the notifications warning all ships against entering the port, the lieutenant refused to receive them.
Returning to the shore the officer came back to the ship in an hour or two saying that his superior would not receive the letter addressed to the Emperor; that he doubted that the Emperor would receive the letter at all. He was instantly informed that if the superior officer did not come for the letter at once the ships would proceed up the Bay of Yeddo and deliver the letter without him. Of course this ultimatum created great excitement and the officer finally asked a stay in the proceedings until the next day.
During the night signal fires blazed from the mountain tops and bells sounded the hours. In the next few days the famous letter, which was incased in a golden box of a thousand dollars value, was delivered. Nothing very definite was accomplished, however, and the fleet came home. The next year Commodore Perry returned with a larger fleet, another letter, and with presents of various kinds. These consisted of cloth, agricultural implements, firearms and a small locomotive with cars and a mile of circular track for the miniature train, together with a telegraph line to go around it.
The interest and curiosity caused by this miniature railway was wonderful. People walked hundreds of miles to see it. When some of the dignitaries were told that in the United States of America there were many large trains in which hundreds of passengers were carried they could hardly believe it. One of these officials said that if big trains could carry passengers little ones ought to be able to do so. It was then arranged for him to take a ride. With his flowing robe he was assisted to mount one of these little cars like as if it were a donkey. The whistle was blown, the steam turned on and away he went around the circle and it created as much excitement as a balloon once did at a circus in this country.
Finally, it was suggested that a treaty be made between the United States and Japan. On board the flagship of Commodore Perry was a minister of the gospel who was consulted and after much discussion a clause was inserted giving America the right to erect or establish places of worship in Japan and a promise that Japan would abolish the practice of trampling on the face of Christ and the cross.
At first our missionaries were restricted to certain localities and they had a time of it. Less than twenty-five years ago this treaty was revised and until this was done no Christian missionary could leave these restricted areas without permission from the Japanese government. This treaty also gave Japan the right to send their missionaries to the United States and thus we have a half hundred Buddhist temples on the Pacific coast at the present time.
On landing at Yokohama, one of the first places I went to visit was the great bronze idol of Kamakura, which is but eighteen miles from Yokohama. It is about fifty feet high, and it is called the "Great Buddha" or "Diabutsa." It is a thousand years old and a horrible looking affair. I went up into the hollow image which is ninety-seven feet in diameter. I wanted to scratch the eyes out, for they are said to be made of solid gold. Years ago there was a temple over this image, so it is said, but a great tidal wave swept the building away. Now they are collecting money from tourists to erect another temple, so they say. They tackle every American for a subscription and strangely enough they get a lot of money out of them.
Speaking of heathen temples brings to mind a large one that I visited in Tokyo. It is dedicated to a fox. The people used to believe, some of them do yet, that when one dies his spirit enters the form of some animal. A man is afraid to throw a rock at a dog for fear he will hit his old grandfather—he doesn't know but that his grandfather's spirit entered that particular dog. So they dedicate their temples to these lower animals and often take better care of animals than poor people.
In this Tokyo temple mentioned there is a great image in one end of the building and below it a money chest nearly as large as a trunk the lid of which is like a hopper. Of course it takes money to keep up the temple and the followers of Buddha come here to worship. They always pay before they pray. A lot of us pray and then don't pay. Fortune tellers are nearly always in heathen temples. The gambling instinct abounds. The people too often undertake to deceive their gods by making promises that they will do so and so if successful when they never intend to fulfill the promises. It makes one's heart ache to see people bow down before these lifeless idols. Most of these temples are hotbeds of immorality as many of the treacherous priests have neither principle nor conscience.
One night I went to a real Japanese hotel. Of course, in a great city like Tokyo, there are plenty of English or European hotels, but in this case I went for the experience. Before entering we had to take off our shoes. No person enters a real Japanese house with shoes on. However, they wear clogs that can be kicked off at the door. Entering a small vestibule of the hotel a servant bowed, seated us, took off our shoes, put them up like checking one's grip, brought slippers and assisted in putting them on, then invited us in. The proprietor bowed and began to apologize. The Japanese always apologize. A friend was with me and the landlord said that he was very sorry that he had no rooms good enough for such dignified guests to sleep in, but he would give us his best.
Bidding us follow him he led the way upstairs. I simply could not keep the slippers on my feet so took them off and carried them, one in each hand. At the top of the stairway a door slid open and a Japanese lady began laughing. I expect she is telling yet about a foreigner who once came to the hotel who thought slippers were to wear on his hands. On reaching the rooms, amidst profuse apologies, he named the price which was double the amount named on the printed card. When my friend called his attention to his published prices he said: "Yes, but I will make you fine gentlemen a discount," and proceeded to discount the price to that named on his card.
The city of Tokyo is a little world in itself. It contains nearly three million people. It covers more than twenty-eight square miles of territory. Its streets are generally narrow and in much of the city there is practically no sewer system. The refuse and night soil is all saved and sold for fertilizer. If a fire should get well started it looks like a great portion of the city would go up in smoke for most of the houses are of flimsy material and would burn like haystacks.
They have no system of numbering houses and to hunt for some certain one is like hunting for a needle in a haymow. Like in all cities the people are pleasure loving and the parks and shows are well attended. In the very heart of the city is a square mile of territory given entirely up to the lowest form of evil. It is undoubtedly one of the most wicked spots on the globe.
One must not judge the Japanese people or even the people of Tokyo by this standard, however, for no people ever made such tremendous strides as have the Japanese nation since the days of Commodore Perry. The great Imperial University of Tokyo makes one think of Yale or Harvard. The buildings are modern and the campus beautiful and well kept. Passing through these grounds a friend pointed out the most noted buildings. Entering them I found the most modern and up-to-date equipment. One large building is devoted exclusively to the study of earthquakes. The Japanese know more about earthquakes than any other people.
The students are taught how to erect buildings earthquakeproof. The most powerful seismographs in the world are in this university. I saw a record of the San Francisco earthquake that was made by these instruments—just when it started, when it was at the worst, length of time it lasted and all about it. Here in this building is a picture of a place where, during an earthquake, the ground was opened and a lot of people had fallen perhaps a hundred feet down. The photograph was evidently taken just as the ground was closing and the people below were waving good-bye to those above as they were going to their death.
Japan has been called the land of flowers and cherry blossoms or The Flowery Kingdom. It is one of the most interesting countries on the globe to visit. While shut away to themselves these people developed a civilization of their own which is far superior, in most respects, to that of other oriental peoples. Their experience with Christianity, corrupt though it was, no doubt gave them the start. The entire area of Japan is but little larger than California and most of it is very mountainous and yet so wonderful are they in the development of agriculture that nearly sixty million people live upon the products of their soil.
The Japanese people think a lot of America for they recognize the fact that to America they owe more than to any other nation. Their friendship for us is real too, if one can judge anything by mingling with the people. All this talk about Japan attacking America is too ridiculous to think seriously about, even though we have not treated them as we should in all cases. If you were in Tokyo today you would see the stars and stripes just below their own flag, and you would see more American flags than of all other nations combined, barring of course, their own.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF A NATION—KOREA
The Palestine of eastern Asia is Korea. While called the "Land of the Morning Calm," it has been the battleground of the eastern world for centuries. Japan on the east has looked upon Korea as a "sword pointed at her heart." China on the south has always felt that Korea practically belonged to her, while the Great Bear on the north has looked longingly for ages toward this coveted land. The same can be said of Manchuria as well.
Until recent years the world knew but little of this country. It was really a "Hermit Nation." The people lived in walled cities and allowed no outside people to come in. Less than a half century ago signboards could be seen along the highways upon which was written: "If you meet a foreigner, kill him; he who has friendly relations with him is a traitor to his country." It is said that they actually kept the country along the sea shore barren and unattractive while in the interior the people lived on the fat of the land. The mountain peaks were great beacon towers lighted up every night to signal to the capital that no danger threatened and all was well along the borders.
In area, Korea is about as large as Minnesota. The population is more than fifteen millions. Except in the northern part, which is as cold as Minnesota, the climate is delightful. Nearly everything that will grow in Japan will grow in Korea. The surface is largely mountains and plains. In the mines are gold, copper, iron and coal, as well as other minerals. The silk industry is becoming one of great value and although every mountain forest has been cleared, some paper is made.
Perhaps in no other country in the world has such an effort been made to keep men and women apart as in this strange land. In Seoul, the capital city, they used to toll a bell at eight in the evening which meant that men must go indoors and let women on the streets. Blind men, officials, and certain others were exempt. Any man with a doctor's prescription was allowed on the streets, but so many of these were forged that much trouble resulted. At midnight the bell tolled again and after that hour men could circulate on the streets freely without danger of arrest.
The people in Korea nearly all dress in white no matter what their work may be. Men and women dress much alike. A curious custom among married women is the wearing of waists that expose the entire naked breasts. This is all but beautiful and as some one says, gives the appearance of a shocking show window. The theory is, so they say, that to cover the breasts is to poison the milk. No man really amounts to much in Korea until after he is married, but that is largely true in our country. There, however, silence is the wife's first duty. Marriage customs are much like those in Japan where parents make the matches. It is said that often the husband never hears the voice of his wife until after marriage and even then she keeps silent for as long as a month.
The Korean people have some happy times together in spite of some of these strange customs. One of their national festival days is called "Swing day." Swings are prepared nearly everywhere and people drop their work and swing. The Koreans are different from any other people in the far east and when they play they play with all their might. Men and boys love to hunt the swimming holes along the streams and they seem to enjoy this sport as do our own men and boys in America.
While Korea has been a battleground for ages yet it was opened up to modern civilization by Japan something like America, through Commodore Perry, opened up Japan. Later on Korea paid tribute to China. The great crisis came in 1894 when the battle royal was waged between Japan and China for this land. On September 15th of that year a great battle occurred on land and two days later, in the mouth of the Yala River occurred what is said to be the first great naval battle of history in which modern warships were used. In this battle the Chinese fleet went to the bottom of the sea and soon Port Arthur was besieged and taken and the Japanese army started across the country with the cry, "On to Peking." This opened the eyes of the Chinese and Korea was surrendered and was practically annexed by Japan and its name changed to Chosen. Since that time Korean civilization has gone forward by leaps and bounds and is fast becoming a country that has to be reckoned with. The story of Japan's dealings with Korea during these years contains some mighty dark spots. These things have aroused the indignation of the whole civilized world and the end is not yet.
To plant the seed of Christianity on Korean soil has required a great effort and the story of the transformation of this nation that has occurred within the past forty years is as thrilling as can be found in the history of modern missions. It was the pleasure of the writer to travel to the far east with one who has been on the field in Korea for twenty-five years. Thirteen of these years were spent in the city of Pyeng Yang which became the scene of one of the greatest revivals in all the history of the Christian church.
At the time that Mr. and Mrs. Swallen, who were sent as missionaries by the Presbyterian church (Mrs. Swallen was my traveling companion), to Pyeng Yang, it was said to be the most wicked city in Korea. So frightful were the conditions that boys in their play would often drag the corpse of a person who had died during the night through the streets the next day, unmolested. It is almost impossible to believe the story of things that occurred almost daily in this city.
The first building of the mission was but eight feet square, not much larger than a storebox. As at that time men and women were always separate in public gatherings, the men met at one hour and the women at another. Soon the building was doubled in size. When the Swallen's took charge the mission was called the Central church. Then came the great revival wave and the church grew to a great congregation. A new building seating between five and six hundred was erected and before it was finished it was too small. About one hundred members then withdrew to form another congregation in another part of the city. A little later another hundred started still another congregation.
As the Central church building was even yet far too small they erected a great building that will seat two thousand. The interest was so great that other congregations had to be formed and at the time Mrs. Swallen told me this wonderful story, out from this little store-box mission seven great congregations had been formed in different parts of the city. Besides this the movement spread to the country and nearly thirty congregations had grown from this central mission.
Then came the great revival of 1910 which attracted so much attention. These people started the cry, "A million converts in one year." The work was systematized. Bible classes were formed and every Christian became a real missionary. Volunteers were called for, who could give one or more days to the work. Nearly everyone volunteered and during the first three months it was estimated that seventy-five thousand days of personal work was promised. Great earnestness and enthusiasm were manifest everywhere.
The pastor of this Central church and one of his elders formed the habit of going to the church every morning at dawn for prayer. This soon became known and others wished to join them. One Sunday morning the pastor announced that all who wished to do so might join them the following morning and the bell would be rung at four thirty. At one a. m. the people began gathering and at two o'clock more than one hundred were present. For four mornings these meetings were kept up and between six and seven hundred were present each morning. On the fourth morning the pastor asked how many would give one or more days of service and every hand went up, more than three thousand days work being promised.
The secret of this mighty revival seems to have been caused by the study of the Bible and prayer. Everyone carried a New Testament. Bible training classes were formed and sometimes two thousand men actually gathered to study the Bible. In the churches in Korea, even yet men and women sit apart from each other. A petition divides the building but both men and women can see the minister. Men keep their hats on in church, but all, both men and women, take off their shoes before entering. To see these shoes, or clogs, is quite a sight. They are placed in racks made for that purpose, each having their own particular place in the rack.
As might be expected trouble over shoes is not unheard of. Some of the women who are not over scrupulous sometimes take the best pair of shoes. In fact this custom became so universal that the women were taught to make and carry with them to church a small muslin bag. On reaching the church the women now take off their shoes, place them in the bag, and take them into the building with them. All, both men and women, sit on the floor. In some of the churches now small mats are piled high at the door and each takes one of these to sit on. One remarkable feature of these Korean churches is that each church is self-supporting from the beginning. Instead of leaning upon others they are taught to depend upon themselves.
The World's Sunday School Convention was recently held in Tokyo. A significant thing about the invitation cabled to this country for this convention was the fact that it was signed by Japan's leading captain of industry and the Mayor of Tokyo as well. A Business Man's Sunday School Party had toured both Japan and Korea before this, however. In almost every one of the forty cities visited this party was met by governors, mayors, chambers of commerce, boards of education, railroad officials, as well as Christian workers and the friendly attitude of Japan toward America was manifest in every possible way, at the very time too when the California legislature was stirring up so much trouble between the two nations.
But the greatest demonstration of all on this entire trip was that made in Seoul, Korea. The day was perfect. The great throng marched to the parade grounds, a Sunday school banner leading the way. Only members of Sunday schools and officials were admitted and fourteen thousand seven hundred Sunday school workers, by actual count, went into the grounds. It is said that the Japanese officials who for the first time witnessed an array of the Sunday school forces of Seoul looked troubled. It was in the month of May and the bushes of the old palace yard were abloom in white and red. As the great multitude sang the Christian hymns in the Korean language the very buildings almost trembled.
A GREAT UNKNOWN LAND—MANCHURIA
Of all the lands in eastern Asia perhaps the least is known about Manchuria of any of them. And yet one of the finest sleeping cars I ever traveled in was on the South Manchurian railway. I had a large roomy compartment to myself. In it was a comfortable bed, or berth, a folding washstand and writing desk, electric fan, and various other conveniences. While this was an eastern model sleeper, an American pullman was also attached to the train for those who preferred it.
For two hundred and seventy years the Manchurians furnished the rulers for the whole Chinese Empire. The Empress Dowager was a Manchu. Born in a humble home, at the age of sixteen she became a concubine of the Emperor. She was so diligent in study and self-improvement that she was elevated to the position of first concubine and later became the mother of the Emperor's son and was raised to the position of wife. When her son was but three years of age the Emperor died and she swept aside all aspirants to the throne, placed her son upon it with herself as regent until he was of age. For forty-seven years, in a country where women had scarcely any power, this marvelous woman ruled one-fourth of the human race.
Manchuria is a little larger than the combined area of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. It is located at the northeast of China and until recently formed a part of the Chinese Empire. While nearly all kinds of grain and vegetables are grown, the one great staple crop of Manchuria is the soybean. Think of growing two million tons of these beans per year! Before the war Manchurian beans were shipped all over the world. In a Manchurian city I asked a business man to tell me the chief sights of the city and he said: "We have nothing here but bean mills. It is beans, beans, beans." In the hills and mountains nearly all kinds of wild beasts are found. The Manchurian tiger is perhaps most dreaded of all.
Perhaps the best known place in Manchuria is Port Arthur. Years ago the Chinese had what they believed to be an impregnable fortress in Port Arthur, but the wily Japanese battered it down in twenty-four hours. Later on the Russians got it and worked seven years on the fortifications and gun emplacements and really felt that they had it secure. Although the forts were built on the Belgian plan and Port Arthur was as secure as Antwerp, yet the unconquerable Japanese took it with a loss of only a thousand or fifteen hundred men. Nature has been kind to Port Arthur by throwing up the mountains of "The Chair," "The Table," and the "Lion's Mane," but the best defense that nature provides has to give way before the genius of the human brain.
Only a little more than four miles from Port Arthur is the city of Dalney, also called Dairen. It is a beautiful little city of fifty or sixty thousand people with a good street car system and many modern buildings. On landing I went to the Yamato hotel and found comfortable quarters at a reasonable price. The South Manchurian railway operates a string of these Yamato hotels. This is a Japanese railway and operates with a steamship line crossing the Yellow Sea and the great Trans-Siberian railroad, or rather did so before the world war. In Dalny I found a good Y. M. C. A. building with an American secretary. This association has good buildings in nearly every large oriental city especially if it is near the coast. One can hardly realize the debt of gratitude civilization owes to this organization. These buildings are oases on the great oriental desert where the American traveler can find rest and a quiet home.
At the close of the war between Russia and Japan by the treaty of Portsmouth, Russia agreed to transfer to Japan without compensation and with the consent of the Chinese Government, the South Manchurian Railway between Port Arthur and Changchun, a distance of four hundred and thirty-six miles, "together with all rights, privileges, and properties appertaining thereto in that region, as well as all coal mines in said region belonging to or worked for the benefit of the railway." The Chinese Government also agreed not to construct any parallel lines that would injure the interests of this railway, so the Japanese have an iron hold upon the whole proposition.
To travel the full extent of this railway in the late fall is an interesting experience. The soil is of a reddish color and the fall plowing was already done. The methods of farming used in China largely prevail here. I saw many of them taking their beans, grain, and other produce to market. Along the dusty highway the oxen slowly trudged, drawing great wooden wheeled carts. On one occasion the engine had frightened the oxen and they had their heads up and tails flying as the loaded cart bumped along over the field with the driver doing all he could to get them back into the highway. Women and children were often sitting on the ground in the villages, seemingly without any work whatever to do.
The Manchurian people are larger physically than the Chinese and are better looking. But some one has said of the Manchu, "he knows not, neither does he learn." They say that he only bathes once a year and does not care who owns the ground as long as he can till it, and that it does not bother him in the least to see his wife and daughter sit on the stone fence for hours picking the lice from each other's head. The women folks are largely slaves of fashion and still persist in trying to stunt the growth of their feet. Even while they do this they often work in the harvest field, wash their clothing along the streams, clean out the donkey stable, and do all kinds of outdoor work. While baking bread, spanking their children and doing other household duties, they are not slow in looking after and waiting upon their lordly husbands.
Some years ago a plague of the most deadly description swept over northern Manchuria. It was so terrible and fatal that when one was stricken there was but little hope for recovery. It was so contagious that when one member of a family took it, generally the entire family perished, as simply a whiff of the breath of one stricken was sufficient to give it to another. The government made every effort to cope with the situation but the difficulties were tremendous and the scourge spread like a prairie fire. More than forty-two thousand took it and it is said that not a single one recovered.
The ground was frozen so hard that it was impossible to dig graves for the dead and preparation was made for cremating bodies. This created consternation among the Manchus. Every possible subterfuge was resorted to to conceal cases of the plague and bodies were often hidden in the snow all winter long. Dr. Jackson, a brilliant young physician of the Irish Presbyterian Mission in Manchuria, was stricken and died, as did Dr. Mesny, a splendid French physician. Early the next spring the plague ceased as suddenly as it broke out and has never appeared again in any country. However, many believe the "influenza" is a modification of this plague.
Mukden, the Manchurian capital city, has been called "The Asiatic Armageddon!" It is a walled city and contains a couple of hundred thousand people. During the Russian-Japanese war a portion of it is said to have been eight different times in the hands of the Russians and Japanese. The streets are unpaved; dirt and filth abounds. There are many big dirty restaurants. The Manchus are great feeders. They eat between meals, soup and vegetables and most everything else. The temperature of Mukden is about the same as Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The Imperial Tombs are not far from Mukden. The road to these tombs is paved with stones. This is called the "Road of the Spirit." On each side are six great life-sized stone animals. It is thought that these signify the Emperor's rule over certain countries. Visiting the great Ming Tombs near Nanking, China, one sees many of these large stone animals.
Not far from Mukden one can get a look at the great Wall of China, the building of which is said to be the greatest undertaking of all history. It was fifteen hundred miles long, fifty feet thick at the bottom and from twenty-five to forty feet high. It was built over mountains, across valleys and rivers and down into the sea. There were towers about every three hundred yards and although built more than two thousand years ago, much of it is in good repair to this day. It took a million men ten years to do the job of building it. The Chinese and Manchus were great wall builders. Their cities were always walled.
Mukden stands on a plain but its walls are forty feet high and thirty feet thick at the top. At each corner, and over each of the eight gateways there used to be a tower, and then the great Drum Tower and Bell Tower were in the midst of the city. Nearly every city had its big Drum Tower upon which drums were beaten if the city was in danger or an enemy near. Here in Mukden nearly all these towers have been taken down, but large portions of the old city walls remain. There are said to be very many more men than women in the city today. Until 1905, it is said, the city never had a policeman. The gates were closed at dark and the city became silent as the streets were not lighted. There is not enough light in the streets yet at night to hardly be noticed. The old patriarchal family system often prevails. Sometimes a family will be composed of a hundred people—several generations. The following from Dugald Christie will give a glimpse of some of the strange customs of these people.
He says: "There was in Mukden a wealthy family who had land in the country adjoining that of some poor people. A dispute arose over boundaries and they went to law. Having money to back him the rich man won the case. The next day a son of the poor man committed suicide at the rich man's door and he had to compensate the parents heavily. When that was settled another son did the same, calling on all to witness that he did this because of the injustice his parents had suffered at the hands of this man. This time a much heavier indemnity was demanded and after months of haggling it was paid. Then a third son killed himself in like manner and the payment of the still further increased blood money reduced the once wealthy man to a state poorer than his rival. Again the law suit was heard and this time the country family won the case."
Another Manchurian city of note is Harbin. This is located in the great agricultural district of the country. Twenty-five or thirty years ago this was open prairie, but one night two Russians pitched their tent on the spot that is now the center of the city. Like Jonah's gourd, the city almost grew up in a night. For years it was about the worst city to be found, there being at least one murder committed almost every day. After changing trains at midnight and rambling around a few hours I would say that it is not filled with saints yet. During the Russian-Japanese war it was one of the great gateways, more than a million soldiers passing through it.
From Harbin west one passes through the Kuigan mountains. This is said to be the coldest place of like latitude on the globe. Here grows in abundance the Edelweiss, which is so rare and so prized in Switzerland. Mr. Taft, in "Strange Siberia," calls attention to the fact that one of the Manchurian towns here is named for Genghis Khan, who was one of the great military geniuses of the old days. He united the vast hordes of warring tribes of Siberia into one vast army and swept over this whole country like a mighty conqueror. Our American soldiers who were sent to this section of the Far East sure got a glimpse of Manchuria that they will never forget.
Before the world war many of the Chinese and Manchus crossed the line and worked in the Russian gold mines and grew rich, but they had a time getting their gold out of Russia without being discovered. But their cuteness is proverbial. Even Chinamen die, and they as well as the Manchus must sleep their long sleep in their native land. In a certain Russian city it is said that these Chinese were paying great attention to the dead bodies of their kindred in preparing them for the journey back home. The Russians became suspicious and peeping through a keyhole at the embalming processes these policemen discovered that gold dust was blown from a tube into the dead man's skull. This let the cat out of the bag, for these Chinese were making the bodies of the dead the carriers of gold, for as soon as the bodies reached home the gold was extracted.
THE LAND OF SORROW—SIBERIA
Away yonder in eastern Siberia, on the banks of the Amur River, high on the projecting cliff stands a huge iron cross which can be seen many miles away. Upon this Christian emblem is inscribed one of the greatest sentences in all the literature of the world. Here it is: "Power lies not in force but in love." Strange it is indeed that such an emblem and such an inscription should be found in the wilds of this country. But many are the strange sights one beholds on a journey across this great lonely, strange, and sad land. Having crossed this country it is my purpose to recount some of the observations and experiences of the journey.
But few people today realize the immensity of Siberia. You could take a map of the whole United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, and add to it a map of Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Austria (before the war), Holland, Denmark, the Turkish Empire, Greece, Roumania, and Bulgaria, and lay all these together down on Siberia alone and have territory left. Nearly five thousand miles of the main line of the great Trans-Siberian railway are in this one country.
The building of this railroad was a gigantic undertaking and its construction cost the Russian Government four hundred million dollars. With all our boasted American hustle it took twenty years to build the Canadian Pacific railway from coast to coast. The Trans-Siberian is more than twice as long and was completed in half that length of time. Before the war there was hardly ever an accident on this railway. Every verst (about two-thirds of a mile) there is a little guardhouse and there was always a man or woman, generally a woman, standing with a flag as the train passed. I crossed on the International Sleeping Car train. It took ten days and ten nights and the average speed was more than twenty miles per hour.
The berths on this train were very comfortable. They were crosswise of the car while ours are lengthwise. The train consisted of two first-class, two second-class sleepers, a diner and a baggage car. These international trains ran once a week each way before the war and sometimes one had to purchase a ticket weeks in advance to go at a given time. When all berths were sold those who had none simply had to wait a week for the next train. I was the lone American on the train all the way across. There were a number of Englishmen and many Frenchmen on board.
My roommate was an old sea captain from Scotland. He had been on the sea forty-six years. Unfortunately his baggage was left at Harbin. He asked the chief of the train to wire back that it be forwarded on the next train, giving or rather offering a tip of a few shillings, but the chief would not give him any satisfaction. The next day the captain tried again, offering a tip of an English pound. This had the desired effect. In a few days we discovered that the English Consul from Yokohama was on board and laid the matter before him. Not long after this the train chief came and apologized and gave back the tip. I have wondered many times whether or not the captain ever received his baggage.
The dining car was a regular saloon on wheels. The first thirty minutes were spent by the waiters in soliciting orders for drinks. If you did not order anything to drink you were always served last. I had heard that it was almost impossible to get anything to eat on this train unless you were liberal in giving tips. So I started out to break the record—to cross Siberia without giving a tip on the diner. All went well for a couple of days. I was served all right. In fact, as long as I had the exact change everything was lovely. But when I gave the collector a bill he never came back with any change and I had to give it up. Such a feat as crossing Siberia without giving a tip in the diner could not be performed. The prices were not exorbitant, however, for one could get a fairly good meal for a dollar at that time.
Some of the great rivers of the world are in Siberia. It is said that if all the steel bridges on this main line were placed end to end they would make a great steel structure more than thirty miles long. These were all built too by Russian engineers. Lake Baikal is a long, narrow body of water in the heart of Siberia. It is said to be the most elevated lake on the globe and has the distinction of being the only body of fresh water in which seals will live. In some places no bottom has been found. When the railroad was first built trains were taken across this lake on gigantic ferries.
As the winters are long and cold, great ice-breakers were built to take the trains across during the winter time. It is actually said that these ice-breakers would slowly plow their way through thirty-six inches of ice. During the Russian-Japanese war these were too slow so they laid down heavy steel rails on the ice and all winter long trains were speeded across on this ice railway. Some time ago I made this statement in a lecture and as soon as the last word was spoken a Russian came forward saying: "I was a soldier in the Russian army and walked across this lake on the ice and saw them laying the rails at the time. It was then nearly sixty below zero."
Siberia is the greatest wheat country on earth. All our great northwest, with Canada thrown in, is but a mere garden spot as compared with Siberia. There are multiplied millions of acres of the finest wheat fields in the world in this great country that are as yet untouched. The Siberian women make the best bread of any cooks the world around. It is as white as the driven snow and so good and nourishing that no one who eats it can ever forget the taste.
Siberia is also one of the greatest dairy countries in the world. When the war broke out Siberia was actually supplying a large portion of Europe with dairy products. In two Siberian cities there were thirty-four large butter and dairy establishments. The Russian Government sent a professor of agriculture around the world to study the science and art of buttermaking. The results of his investigation were published in pamphlet form and sent to buttermakers and agriculturists. It is said that sometimes a thousand tons of Siberian butter have been delivered in London in a single week. It is also said that Great Britain was purchasing five million dollars worth of eggs per year from Siberia when the war broke out.
I learned something of the superstition of the Siberian peasant when cream separators were first introduced. It is said that when these hard working people were told of machines that would separate the cream from milk instantly they declared that only a machine with a devil in it could do such a thing. But an enterprising foreigner went ahead and built a factory and about the time he had some of the separators ready for delivery a mob gathered, wrecked the factory and smashed the separators into smithereens, declaring that they would not have machines with devils in them in their country. That was years ago, however, and they have long since learned to use and appreciate these machines.
But the saddest sights I saw in Siberia were the trains loaded with exiles. These cars were not much better than stock cars and had iron bars across the windows. The sad faces within made one's heart ache to see them. As I rode in a comfortable car with a good bed to sleep in it was hard to keep from thinking of these unfortunate people who were herded like cattle in cold, dirty cars day after day and night after night for a month. Food was thrown to them almost as though they were pigs and at best this food was of the coarsest and most unsavory kind.
But their journey, packed in these unwarmed and unsanitary cars was so much better than what exiles had endured before the railroad was built, that one can hardly make a comparison. Then the exiles had to make the long four thousand mile journey on foot. It took about two years. Most of the convicts wore chains on their ankles that weighed five pounds and chains on their wrists that weighed two pounds. Sometimes these chains wore the flesh from the bones and the pain, as they trudged along their way, was simply terrible. Men and women were herded in droves like cattle. They had to make so many miles each day through storm or sunshine. Often it was midnight before they reached the sheds in which were the sleeping benches. Here they had to lie down on bare planks without any covering. There was no ventilation in these sheds except a bare window or two in the gable. In summer they sweltered and in winter they nearly froze to death.
As these unfortunate people slowly trudged along, the heartless guards on horseback whipped them and often prodded them with bayonets. Sometimes both men and women fell fainting and dying along the wayside. As two were nearly always chained together, the living was unlocked from the dead, the body kicked out of the way and even left unburied. In the heat of summer the dust nearly suffocated them and in the late autumn and early spring (they stopped in winter quarters in the coldest months), they often floundered along through mud nearly knee deep. Often the mud was frozen in the morning and their feet would break through. Perhaps their shoes were completely worn out, but no mercy was shown them and they had to make their way barefooted.
There was one thing the guards could not do, however, and that was to keep them still. As they went on their way they kept up a kind of a wail that was said to be the saddest chant that human ears ever heard. For miles and miles this mournful wail could be heard by the few people who lived in villages along the way. Sometimes, however, these villages were fifty or a hundred miles apart. But this wail was kept up continually. Every plan imaginable was used to stop it, but this could not be done and the guards and officers grew accustomed to it and let it go. No wonder that even yet in Siberia the call of the milkmaid is something like the wail of the exiles.
One of the most thrilling events during the war was the opening of the Siberian prison doors in the spring of 1917, when more than one hundred thousand exiles walked out as free men and women. In the great Irkutsk prison a company of men were watching some of their fellow prisoners being flogged when a man appeared at the door saying: "Russia is a republic and you are all free." Instantly all was excitement. The officers fled for their lives. Even the prison blacksmiths fled, for they had welded the shackles on thousands of prisoners and they feared vengeance. Other smiths were pressed into service and were compelled to work all night long cutting these iron chains. Many were chained to wheelbarrows and of course could not get away until their irons were broken. A committee of public safety was formed at once and precautions taken. A banquet was prepared in the dismissed governor's palace and sixty men whose chains had not been cut loose sat down at the table with their chains rattling.
In one place the priest, while performing his duties in the church, heard the news and announced it. Fifty men rushed out to kill the local police captain who had been a regular tyrant. As they came to his home they were met by the captain's ten-year-old daughter, who stood in front of her father and calmly said: "You will have to kill me first," and thus she saved his life.
In five days after the revolution, six thousand exiles had reached Irkutsk from other prisons. By the way, Irkutsk is the capital of eastern Siberia and here the greatest prisons were located. It is said that as many as one hundred thousand prisoners have been in the great prisons in and around this city at one time. There were no trains for these freed exiles and they camped along the railroad track. Every day the company became larger. At one time it was said that fifty thousand sledges were rushing toward the railroad as fast as horses, dogs and reindeer could drag them. The snow was already melting and they were determined to get to the railroad before it was too late.
Those who think the great Russian Empire is nothing but cold, bleak, barren waste, will have to think again. In 1913 there were eleven million acres planted in potatoes, five and one-half million acres of flax and hemp and nearly two million acres in cotton. They even had one hundred and fifty thousand acres in tobacco. In all there were in cultivation nearly four hundred million acres of land. In 1914 Russia and Siberia possessed thirty-five million head of horses, fifty-two million head of cattle, seventy-two million sheep, and fifteen million head of hogs.
THE HOME OF BOLSHEVISM—RUSSIA
Of All the countries in Europe, conditions in Russia are perhaps most deplorable. With the granary of the world her people have the least food. A few years ago her laws were the most rigid of all countries, now she is nearest without law of any of them. With all her boundless resources, she is as helpless as a child. Like poor old blind Samson, she has lost her strength and is a pitiful sight to behold.
But the purpose of this article is not to recount the horrors the war brought to Russia. I would much rather tell something about the people as I saw them just before the war, and their country and cities in times of peace. Some day these people will have a stable government. They have suffered for a long time, but out of it all will come a purified people and a government in which the people will have some rights and privileges worth while. The writer of these lines does not pose as a prophet, but will say that in twenty-five years Russia will have the best government in Europe.
The Russian people are a race of farmers. When the war broke out eighty-five per cent of the people lived in the country. Although a nation having one-sixth of the earth's surface, yet she has only a few large cities. It is actually said that years ago people had to be chained in the cities to keep them from moving to the country.
The people, as a rule, are honest-hearted, hard-working people, who have never had a chance. They are ignorant and often superstitious. They have been used to hardship and cruelty. In the old days a man was beaten three hours a day for debt and after a month sold as a slave if no one came to his rescue. Thieves and other criminals were hanged, beheaded, broken on a wheel, drowned under the ice or whipped to death. "Sorcerers were roasted alive in cages; traitors were tortured by iron hooks which tore their sides into a thousand pieces; false coiners had to swallow molten metal," says one writer.
Woman was considered the property of man and her glory was to obey her husband as a slave obeys his master. No eyes could look upon her face and she was shut up like a prisoner. They used to think that if a husband beat his wife it was the sign he loved her. The Russian proverb says: "I love thee like my soul, but I beat thee like my jacket."
Never will I forget the time spent in Moscow. The great center of the city is the Kremlin Palace and at the time of my visit it contained riches untold. Of course, the Bolshevists have looted it long before this. In it at that time was the largest gun ever made before the war, but it had never been fired. Also the largest bell ever cast was there, but this had never been rung. In front of this palace is the famous Red Square, and this has no doubt been red with blood many times during these terrible years of Bolshevist rule. If the very stones upon which people walk could speak, a wave of horror would sweep around the world.
Perhaps the most curious church in the world is that of Saint Basil the Blessed, which is in the city of Moscow. It has nearly a dozen spires most curiously built and no one seeing it can ever forget it. It is said that the eyes of the Italian architect who built it were put out so he could never build another like it. The Russian people are very religious and Moscow is their sacred city. At the sight of the glittering crosses the peasants coming into the city for the first time would often fall upon their faces and weep.
This sacred city has passed through some horrible times. Famine has raged and the ravages of hunger caused parents to eat the flesh of their own children. Pestilence at one time stalked through the city like a mighty conqueror and a hundred and twenty thousand people perished before it could be checked. Nearly the entire city has gone up in smoke on more than one occasion and yet it still lives. When I was there its streets were ablaze with electric lights at night and thronged with shopping multitudes by day, but all this is changed at this time.
If we can believe the historian, orgies have taken place in this city that would make it, for the time being, a rival of Hades itself. When the Russians turn against a man their hatred knows no bounds. In one case they caught a pretender for the throne and almost continuously for three days they tortured him in every imaginable way, shape and form. After he was finally killed they were so afraid that he might come to life that they took his body, burned it to ashes, loaded them in a cannon and fired it, scattering them to the four winds.
One of the empresses of Russia became enraged at one of the princes whose wife had died and she compelled him to marry an old ugly woman whose nickname was "Pickled Pork." One historian says: "The marriage festival was celebrated with great pomp: representatives of every tribe and nation in the Empire took part, with native costumes and musical instruments: some rode on camels, some on deer, others were drawn by oxen, dogs and swine. The bridal couple were borne in a cage on an elephant's back. A palace was built entirely of ice for their reception. It was ornamented with ice pillars and statues, and lighted by panes of thin ice. The door and window posts were painted to represent green marble: droll pictures on linen were placed in ice frames. All the furniture, the chairs, the mirrors, even the bridal couch, were ice. By an ingenious use of naphtha the ice chandeliers were lighted and the ice logs on the ice grates were made to burn! At the gates two dolphins of ice poured forth fountains of flame: vessels filled with frosty flowers, trees with foliage and birds, and a life-sized elephant with a frozen Persian on its back adorned the yard. Ice cannon and mortars guarded the doors and fired a salute. The bride and groom had to spend the night in their glacial palace."
For centuries the common people of Russia were afraid to open their mouths. Detectives were everywhere and half of the people exiled to Siberia had no idea what they had committed. One of the secret service men might visit a peasant home disguised as a tramp or agent. Allowed into the humble home he would examine the books on the table if any were there, and should he find a sentence tabooed by the government, the farmer who gave the stranger a place to eat and sleep would likely be exiled, although he had never read a line in the book.
I have seen these detectives on trains, at depots, in hotels, always watching everybody. No proprietor of a hotel would keep a stranger over night without the guest's passport in his possession. One of these secret service men might come in at midnight and if he found a stranger or even a name on the register without an accompanying passport, the landlord might have to go to prison and of course they took no chances. As soon as I registered at a hotel in Moscow the landlord had to have my passport in his possession.
All things considered it is not at all surprising that when the restraint was removed the people went to the greatest possible extreme. It is not surprising that they all wanted to talk and speechify. Every man had some grievance or something to talk about. While the peasants were honest and trusted each other, yet there have developed so many traitors that now they do not know who they can trust. The great mass of people are like a lot of sheep without a shepherd and can be led or driven in any direction. Of all people, they are perhaps most to be pitied.
A Russian gentleman recently expressed his conviction to the writer that the only hope for the country is in the church people. They are very religious and the Orthodox church was rich in priceless treasure and lands. But the Bolshevists looted and robbed the churches, which of course enraged the people. They were held in check by alluring promises, but these promises were not fulfilled and their eyes are now opened and they will rise up, so this man hopes, and overthrow Bolshevism. One thing is certain and that is that the Bolshevist leaders have recently made all kinds of concessions to the people.
As the darkest days in the history of the Chosen Race in Bible times was when "every man did what was right in his own eyes," so these Russian folks have been passing through just such a time. There has not been any law to speak of and every man has been doing as he pleases with everything he could get his hands on. But as Russia has produced some of the master minds of the ages some of us believe that some of these times a leader will appear who will bring order out of chaos. As a rule, in the days agone, when the people of a great nation were really ready for a mighty step forward the good Lord raised up a man to lead them.